Gateau des Rois

French for “King Cake,” I made this dessert for extra credit in French class back in the day. How I miss the days extra credit was this easy. You can dye the frosting for Mardi Gras, as shown.

Filling:

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • Cake:
  • 12 refrigerated crescent rolls

Icing:

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 T milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Soak raisins in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Place cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins in food processor with metal blade. Process until combined. Add pecans and pulse until pecans are chopped to about 1/4″ pieces. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a pizza pan or baking sheet with butter-flavored vegetable oil.

Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into triangles. Position triangles next to each other with the points toward the center, overlapping the long sides about 1/4″, forming a large round. Where the pieces overlap, press the seams together only in the center of each seam, leaving either ends of the seams unsealed so you can fold them up over the filling. Spread the filling around in a ring covering the center sealed seam of each triangle. Place a small plastic baby or dried bean somewhere in the filling.

Fold the short side of each triangle toward the center just to the edge of the filling to cover. Then pull the point end of the triangles toward the outer rim of the pan to fully enclose the filling, tucking under the points. Lightly press the seams. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. The consistency should be fairly thick, but still thin enought to slowly drip down the sides. Add more milk as necessary. Spoon icing in a ring over the top of the cake and allow it to slowly drip down the sides.

Notes: Icing doesn’t have much flavor, but filling was delicious!

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies

  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup Crisco shortening
  • 1 ¼ cups brown sugar
  • 3 T milk
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375°. In large bowl, combine peanut butter, Crisco, sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg. Beat just until blended. Combine flour, salt and soda. Blend into creamed mixture at low speed just until blended. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls 2” apart on baking sheet. Flatten slightly with fork. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet.

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • 5 T unsalted butter, melted

Combine graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon. Mix in butter. Press into bottom of 10″ pie tin. Bake for 7-9 minutes.

Notes: To freeze, press plastic wrap tightly onto cooled crust. Wrap with heavy aluminum foil, pressing foil tightly around edges of pan. Freeze up to one month.

For a 9″ springform pan, use 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 6 T butter.

Double Peanut Bars

  • 1 ½ cups Wheaties
  • 1 cup Multi Grain Cheerios
  • ½ cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
  • ½ cup chopped dried mixed fruit
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 3 T peanut butter

In a bowl, combine cereals, peanuts and mixed fruit. In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey and peanut butter. Cook and stir until brown sugar and peanut butter are melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over the cereal mixture; gently stir to coat evenly.

Allow to chill. Transfer to an 8″ square dish coated with nonstick cooking spray; gently press down. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

From Taste of Home: Guilt-Free Cooking

Darn Good Chocolate Cake

  • vegetable oil, for misting pan
  • flour, for dusting pan
  • 18.25 oz plain devil’s food cake or dark chocolate fudge cake mix
  • 3.9 oz chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup water, warm
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Prepare cake pan and preheat oven to 350°. Blend cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, water and vegetable oil with mixer on low for 1 minute. Increase to medium and beat 2-3 minutes more. Batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into pan. Place on center rack in oven and bake 45-50 minutes until cake springs back when lightly touched and just starts to pull away from sides of pan. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert on rack to finish cooling.

Notes: To freeze: Wrap in foil up to 6 months. Don’t use pudding-in-mix cake mix.

From The Cake Mix Doctor

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

  • 1 lb butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, soda and salt. Gradually add to cream mixture. Do not use mixer. Put dough in fridge for one hour or until chilled. Roll out on floured sheet. Cut into desired shapes. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes.

Chocolate Wows

Is it a brownie? Is it a cookie? Who cares!
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Note: chocolate needs to cool – prepare ahead of time!

Melt semisweet chocolate and butter, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.

Preheat oven to 325°. In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In large bowl, beat eggs and sugar at medium speed until light and lemon-colored, about 2 minutes, frequently scraping bowl. Reduce speed to low.

Add cooled chocolate mixture, flour mixture, and vanilla. Beat just until blended. Increase speed to medium. Beat 2 minutes. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips

Drop batter by rounded teaspoon, 2” apart, on cookie sheets. Spread batter into 2” rounds. Bake until tops are shiny and cracked, about 13 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheet before cooling on rack.

From Goodhousekeeping

Chocolate Muffins

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 ⅓ cups sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • ⅔ cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture, eggs and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until mixed. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon into muffins tins. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.